Last Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.
Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.
Twitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.
When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
Twitter's autocomplete on Liz Kendall MP. This is the sewer that is Jeremy Corbyn's support. pic.twitter.com/H7gAQWkfGa
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 21, 2015
Louise Mensch appears to have been infuriated and embarrassed by her own very public ineptitude.
She wanted – and evidently got – the Guardian to change their original headline from “Louise Mensch’s bid to smear Jeremy Corbyn campaign backfires” to “Louise Mensch takes Twitter swipe at Corbyn campaign – and hits herself”.
I have made no such “bid”. The above tweet is absolutely false. @guardian
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 22, 2015
I’m sorry for the long pre-amble. You probably clicked on this expecting an instant takedown of Louise Mensch’s more ridiculous smears.
A blogpost that takes 24 hours to write, even fuelled by coffee and embarrassment, can take longer to carefully debunk.
I intend to post these as a series of reports on Mensch’s lengthy blog at unfashionista.com, which she posted at 9:49pm on 22nd August 2015, or just over 25 hours since her embarrassing and very public stumble over Twitter’s autocomplete and her self-identified sewer of a search history at 8:16 PM on 21st August 2015.
Smear #1: Corbyn said it was hard for Syrians to choose between ISIS and the USA
Well, no, he didn’t, and Louise Mensch knew he didn’t: she quoted him saying something different and then framed it in distorting style.
On 28th March 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed in the House of Commons on “Economic Reform and the BRICS Process” by an Australian political nicroparty, Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. (Corbyn doesn’t get to speak til 10:22 in the video: he looks politely bored throughout most of the interviewer’s rather discursive introduction.)
The video was made for “Panel 1: Views from the UK” for CEC Australia’s annual conference. Corbyn appears in the same session as Michael Meacher, Labour MP For Oldham West & Royton, and Robert Oulds, Conservative Councillor for Chiswick Homefields ward in Brentford and Islesworth and Director of the Bruges Group.
CEC Australia reported having 549 members in 2007, and has never got more than 2% of the vote in any election it’s stood a candidate in. At federal-level elections CEC Australia gets less than 0.4% percent of the national vote (and Australia has compulsory voting). According to their page on Wikipedia, out of the 95 electorates in which the CEC were represented, they came last in 80 of them. Since 1992, CEC Australia have been affiliated with the La Rouche movement, which is described in a Washington Monthly feature in 2007 as “a vast and bizarre vanity press.” To call CEC Australia a threat would be rather like taking the Above And Beyond Party seriously as an electoral challenge.
I will say there is absolutely no reason why anyone in the UK should ever have heard of CEC Australia: but also that had Corbyn, Meacher, or Oulds looked this microparty up in Wikipedia before they were interviewed, they would have found that while CEC Australia are a microparty without electoral success, whose politics are so muddled that Wikipedia can’t decide if they’re far right or far left, they are affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche, whose speciality was production of huge quantities of glossy but unread material, lots of armed bodyguards and, er, mail fraud. (He was in jail from 1989 to 1994 and on parole til 2004.) Also, he’s a Quaker.
Louise Mensch describes Australian CEC as ” a group of antisemitic conspiracy theorists”.
I’m unclear where she gets that from: it’s fairly well documented that Lyndon LaRouche is certainly an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. LaRouche also believes the Queen is ultimately responsible for drug-running in the Commonwealth because she knows it’s going on, once ran a campaign advocating that classical orchestras should return to the “Verdi pitch” (which was fixed by Giuseppe Verdi in 1884: A at 432 Hz) and denounced nuclear winter as a hoax promoted by the USSR to weaken the US. It’s hard to believe there could be an American with politics more absurd than Donald Trump, but there he is.
The CEC Australia’s current manifesto or “Fighting Platform” as they call it, is on the front page of their website: screenshot here. I don’t see examples of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in their manifesto, though I note that they regard Australia’s racial vilification laws as “fascist”.
Louise Mensch summarises this interview in the opening part of her blog as:
He said it was hard for Syrians to have to choose sides between the “rather shadowy leadership of ISIS” and the “more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West who are propping up the government [of Iraq].” (18:40) Corbyn said this was ‘not a happy position to be’ in. Syrians were:
“stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government [of Iraq]…… it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq”
The actual full quote is:
stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off their oil resources very cheaply – it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.
You are free to find it significant that Louise Mensch carefully omitted any reference to Iraq’s oil and the selling of it.
I think that CEC Australia are absurd: I think that Lyndon LaRouche is worse than absurd.
Louise Mensch asks “Why did Jeremy Corbyn talk to them?” (She doesn’t ask why Michael Meacher or Robert Oulds would talk to them, but as Meacher isn’t running for Labour party leadership and Oulds is a Conservative, I presume she doesn’t care.)
I think Corbyn, Meacher, and Oulds all agreed to be interviewed because, well: a speaking engagement is a speaking engagement, especially one that can be completed on your lunch hour (you can hear Big Ben strike one during Corbyn’s interview).
Louise Mensch notes that “at 21:30, the interviewer says the organization had links with Corbyn from 2013 over Glass-Steagall” and references “it was such an extraordinary debate on the floor of the House of Commons”.
Mensch says “To me this implies a CEC member sat in the Gallery as Corbyn’s guest and listened.”
Two words, Louise. Hansard. Parliament TV. (Okay, that’s three.)
No one has had to sit in the Gallery and listen to find out what was being said in the House of Commons since 1909. Anyone can watch a Parliamentary debate in the Huse of Commons since 1985.
To me, the CEC interviewer’s comment suggests that they listened to the debate on TV, then decided they would come to the UK and interview one, some, or all of the participants: the title of the video is “Views from the UK: Panel 1”.
Louise Mensch demands to know how they got in:
What is the excuse for this? How can Corbyn have brought La Rouche supporters into our Parliament? What due diligence was done? How long as he been involved with them? La Rouche is a barking mad holocaust denier.
If Louise Mensch had checked the UK Parliament website, she would have discovered:
Parliament is open to all UK and overseas visitors to attend debates, watch committee hearings or take a tour inside one of the world’s most iconic buildings.
So my question is: How can Louise Mensch have worked in the Palace of Westminster as an MP from 6th May 2010 to 29th August 2012 and not have known that the House of Commons is open to the public – including to overseas visitors? How can she have remained so unaware of the purpose of the cameras in the Commons chamber that she actually thinks you have to be sitting in the Strangers’ Gallery to watch a debate?
Also, Mensch appears to believe that some special request to an MP is required to watch a debate from the Strangers’ Gallery, but in fact – as again, she could have easily found out from the Parliament website – Australian and Canadian citizens may apply either to their country’s High Commission in London or to the London office of their province or state to get cards of admission.
Now, Louise Mensch is undoubtedly a very self-centred person with very limited areas of interest. I find it curiously plausible that she genuinely didn’t know that anyone can get into the House of Commons just by queuing, and that she had never bothered to find out how a person gets to watch a debate from the Strangers’ Gallery. (I do find it hard to believe that she never noticed the TV cameras in the Commons, but perhaps she just assumes that no one ever watches them.)
But what follows is Louise Mensch outright lying – assuming she watched the video at all.
Mensch claims she is giving “Corbyn’s insane, full quote to these cult fantasists”:
but also some sort of process where [Iraqis and Syrians] can feel a sense of security in their lives rather than being stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off their oil resources very cheaply – it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.
Mensch isn’t giving Corbyn’s full quote. At sixteen minutes plus, the interviewer asks Corbyn, partly quoting him and partly paraphrasing, that Corbyn’s said military force has to be used against ISIS, but that “there has to be a concerted pressure on ISIS funding and sources of arms, because that’s the key to it all.”
This is Corbyn’s full quote, starting 16.52:
“ISIS is very well funded … and very well resourced, and quite well organised, and it appears to be emanating as much from the huge supply of Western weaponry into the Gulf region. Think of the amount of arms sales that have gone into Saudi Arabia, two billion dollars worth of arms through the [name at 17:16] arms contract alone to Saudi Arabia. British base now being constructed in Bahrein, first one for many many years, expansion eastwards, and arms sales to UAE, Bahrein, Qatar, all across the *coughs* place. And ISIS forces that control parts of Iraq, where did they come from? They come from the deliberate break-up of the Iraqi army after the invasion, they come from the looseness of weapons supply in Iraq at the time, so to some extent it’s a reassertion of the old Baathist regime in Iraq, because they were never included in any post-invasion process, and we need to examine that in some detail. But we also need to examine the funding issues, because they’re selling oil, quite clearly, and that money is being processed somewhere.
“Which Western banks are involved in transferring that?”
“HSBC got done over transferring vast amounts of drug-related money in Mexico. Who’s going to get done over for all this ISIS money that’s floating around?”
“And so, I would look at it two ways: one is, to cut off this supply of arms and money that ISIS developed, but also, some sort of process that the people in Iraq and Syria feel a sense of security, in their lives, rather than being stuck in a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more obvious and open leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off the oil resources very cheaply.
“It’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.”
At no point does Jeremy Corbyn say that Syrians and Iraqis have to choose. He says that they are stuck.
At no point does Corbyn compare ISIS to America and the West. Indeed, as Louise Mensch presumably noticed when she selectively quoted from the video, most of what Corbyn’s saying is about how ISIS’s funds and their supply of weapons has to be cut off: he’s talking about investigating Western banks for oil money from ISIS.
Louise Mensch goes on to say:
It is utterly sickening that Corbyn could compare ISIS to America and the West in any way at all – much less draw an equivalence between them or say Syrians and Iraqis aren’t in a happy position when they have to choose.
It is sickening that Louise Mensch listened to Jeremy Corbyn discussing how ISIS could and should be contained, by finding out where they’re getting their funding, and created from it a false quote in which she claims that Corbyn is setting up an “equivalence” between ISIS and the US.
It’s Breitbart tactics; Mensch, though providing the full video, is relying on people not doing more than confirming Corbyn did say more or less what she said at the point in the video she’s indicated in her blog.
Louise Mensch is trying to present herself as merely taking up the attack against Jeremy Corbyn because she is outraged by his association with anti-Semites.
But given this particular attack, shouldn’t we ask: is she really just attacking Corbyn because she believes he’s associating with anti-Semites? (And if so, why didn’t she call out Dan Hodges, who called a Corbyn supporter a “useful Jewish idiot”? – or indeed Michael Meacher and Robert Oulds, who were on the same video panel?) Why did she so completely edit out what Corbyn was saying about strangling off the oil money for ISIS?
Partly it may be that Louise Mensch belongs to the gentry class: she is a British Conservative (and seems to be rapidly becoming an American Republican): and as Avedon Carol noted of the HSBC money laundering in December 2012, the law doesn’t treat banks the way it does ordinary people who get mixed up in the drug trade. Even when “the laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space.”
The US is threatening sanctions and using missiles to destroy illicit oil refineries. Corbyn’s proposal of getting at ISIS’s money supplies from the other end – investigating Western banks to find out where the money is being laundered – may not be as flashy, but also doesn’t involve this:
Hundreds of smaller scale refineries are spread across swathes of insurgent-held land, making it difficult to hit them. They continue to refine the bulk of crude extracted, according to experts and traders.
The refineries included the one run by trader Mazen Mukhtar, who said his was destroyed by a U.S. Tomahawk missile this week in a direct hit, turning his family’s life savings into a heap of mangled metal and burnt crude oil.
The mini refinery, that used primitive distillation and heating methods, cost him around $20,000 to build in a waste plot several kilometers away from his home. The Islamic State-run oil wells that supply it have been untouched.
“Why are they destroying our livelihood…do they want to throw our children to the street to start begging?”
As Andrew Tabler, a senior expert on Syria at the Washington Institute, observed: “Our options are limited unless you hit the wells – but it does not just hit Islamic State, it hits the entire population and that is not something that the U.S. can do very easily. It’s a good example of the constraints of trying to bomb your way out of it.”
Jeremy Corbyn suggests going after the banks who are laundering the money instead: and that’s something Louise Mensch carefully, precisely, avoids mentioning at all.
18 responses to “Smearing by Mensch, 1”
argh. typed long reply but it got eaten. be shorter this time.
1. “When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn”
That makes no sense at all. Search suggests what people write on twitter not what is searched for. I concluded that this is what people were typing, but hadn’t noticed it was my history. Earlier that day and later that day, when I cleared my search, I had seen and would see again ‘Zionist’ next to Kendall. That was precipitated by antisemitic supporters of Corbyn.
Looking for examples of abuse is just that. If I wanted to smear Corbyn by searching for oddball supporters of his my search terms would have included ‘Corbyn’. I didn’t need to. Anybody tweeting antisemitism at Liz Kendall, I knew, would be a Corbyn supporter. Anybody tweeting misogyny at Cooper or Kendall would be a corbyn supporter. No need to add his name to the search; only one candidate’s fans do either misogyny or racism. So no ‘smear’.
2. My blog. You are totally wrong on the part you commentate on and you have omitted all the rest, presumably because you could find no flaw. You have already retracted on the oil bit, good.
Next, you say that ‘How could anybody know CEC were La Rouche-ists.’ For evidence of that you cite wikipedia. But all Jeremy Corbyn had to do was look at the group’s own website. Here’s its front page:
As you can see LaRouche is in big bold red letters right on the front page. I’m tweeting you a screen cap.
So yeah, all Corbyn had to do was click on their website.
Next, you disagree with my speculation – I make clear it is speculation – that Corbyn brought them into the House in 2013. Maybe he did and maybe he did not. But you then go off on a spectacular digression (I’m empathetically blushing for you a bit):
“Louise Mensch demands to know how they got in:
….. [my words]…
If Louise Mensch had checked the UK Parliament website, she would have discovered:
Parliament is open to all UK and overseas visitors to attend debates, watch committee hearings or take a tour inside one of the world’s most iconic buildings.”
But you appear not to have understood either the video or my opening sentence. The video where Corbyn compares ISIS to the US and speaks to the La Rouche-ists is shot inside Parliament in an upper room in the new annex. You might not know that as I do being an ex-MP but I tell all my readers so in the first sentence “Jeremy Corbyn gave an interview inside Parliament” I say, or words to that effect.
So my asking with how could Corbyn have brought them into parliament isn’t based on 2013 (I say I speculate “To me…”). It’s based on fact – the fact that he is talking to them in Parliament, access he granted them and he arranged.
(I’m empathetically blushing for you a bit)
Are you blushing more or less than you did when you realised that you’d misunderstood how Twitter works, despite spending most of your life on it?
. I didn’t need to. Anybody tweeting antisemitism at Liz Kendall, I knew, would be a Corbyn supporter. Anybody tweeting misogyny at Cooper or Kendall would be a corbyn supporter. No need to add his name to the search; only one candidate’s fans do either misogyny or racism.
That is what scientists call confirmation bias. You’re welcome.
My blog. You are totally wrong on the part you commentate on and you have omitted all the rest, presumably because you could find no flaw. You have already retracted on the oil bit, good.
Well, to take the second part: no, as I mention in this blog, this is part 1. Part 2 will be posted this evening. It wasn’t that I could “find no flaw” it’s that it takes a factchecker longer to debunk a blog full of flaws than it takes to write a blog that doesn’t bother to do any factchecking. There’ll be part 3 and probably part 4, too.
For the first part: Given that the video you cite proves me right and you wrong, you can hardly just claim “you are totally wrong”. (Well, you can, since you just have, but::facts are chiels that winna ding.)
Next, you say that ‘How could anybody know CEC were La Rouche-ists.’ For evidence of that you cite wikipedia. But all Jeremy Corbyn had to do was look at the group’s own website
True. But there’s no evidence that Corbyn, Meacher, or Oulds did look at the CEC Australia website, is there?
As Jeremy Duns pointed out to you on Twitter, you present unevidenced speculation about a long-term connection between Corbyn and CEC Australia. Yet all three interviews take place on the same day, 19th March, and there is literally no evidence that any of the three men interviewed knew anything about CEC Australia but the name.
The video where Corbyn compares ISIS to the US and speaks to the La Rouche-ists is shot inside Parliament in an upper room in the new annex.
And so did Michael Meacher, and Robert Oulds is interviewed outside the Palace of Westminster.
You’re moving goalposts, though. (Either that or your blogpost is very badly structured.)
I mocked your “To me this implies a CEC member sat in the Gallery as Corbyn’s guest and listened” since you didn’t seem to know about Hansard (1903) or Parliament TV (198).
You then asked, following your unevidenced speculation that Corbyn had brought someone from CEC Australia into the Strangers’ Gallery:
“What is the excuse for this? How can Corbyn have brought La Rouche supporters into our Parliament? What due diligence was done? How long as he been involved with them?”
So, either you intended to imply that this was about your unevidenced speculation about the Strangers’ Gallery, or else you intended your readers to infer that – or else you are a completely incompetent blogger with no notion of how to structure a blogpost. (I wonder which, but don’t suppose you’ll tell me.)
So my asking with how could Corbyn have brought them into parliament isn’t based on 2013 (I say I speculate “To me…”). It’s based on fact – the fact that he is talking to them in Parliament, access he granted them and he arranged.
So, just to ask: you’ve checked with Jeremy Corbyn, Michael Meacher, and Robert Oulds – all three of them – and they confirmed to you on Saturday that this is what happened?
Or… did you?
You call this piece ‘Smearing By Mensch’ and then proceed to include lots of ad hominem attacks against her. I find this ironic.
You clearly don’t like her and are making it personal and the bias comes through.
Actually, I frequently do find myself liking Mensch – she can be funny, she’s sometimes quite feminist – but yowch, the things she does are quite often completely indefensible…
The problem with the above response is simply the jump that is made by Louise Mensch. It’s not responsible journalism. It’s like deciding what the answer is and making up the equation to suit but it doesn’t quite add up. Taking sound bites, looking at ‘part’ and not the ‘whole’. Placing spin on events and circumstances to suit an agenda.
This campaign to ‘out’ twitter users is just ridiculous. If you want to find hate speech on Twitter – you will find it. Campaigning to ‘out’ people on Twitter is actually platforming hate speech which is the exact thing she seems to be complaining that Jeremy Corbyn does! Searching out hate comments and using hashtags against twitter users is somewhat bullying and childish. So is perpetuating the notion that this is acceptable behaviour on Twitter. Very irresponsible and serves to only negate any argument she has for extreme racism and her concerns about Jeremy Corbyn.
“Search suggests what people write on twitter not what is searched for. I concluded that this is what people were typing, but hadn’t noticed it was my history. Earlier that day and later that day, when I cleared my search, I had seen and would see again ‘Zionist’ next to Kendall. That was precipitated by antisemitic supporters of Corbyn”
…….I expect it’s more likely to be precipitated by oddball tories desperately searching twitter trying to find ways to smear Corbyn. The fact you made so many different attempts suggest your searches were rather fruitless.
well you can suggest it all you want but that is not the fact of the matter. Try entering Corbyn into your Twitter search or Barack Obama. It doesn’t show you searches.
oh and my searches were not at all fruitless. I have hundreds of tweets listing anti-Semites for Corbyn, misogynists for Corbyn. Like I say, I didn’t need to enter search term Corbyn. The abuse was always from his supporters.
I would be interested to know what exactly is Louise Mench’s aim here? Is she just wanting to expose twitter users? If so, surely she can source other examples rather than directing it to Corbyn supporters? If she is vehemently against those who try to negotiate peace terms with people who are seen to have extremist views can she explain and defend any connections she or her party of choice might have that may be deemed controversial or suspect? A more honest assessment of what she is trying to achieve here would be more welcomed. As it is – it appears to just be a smear campaign. And subsequently.. smears herself…
Second part: your blog fisk having failed on ‘oil’ also fails on ‘full quote’, doesn’t it?
You say first: “The actual full quote is:
stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off their oil resources very cheaply – it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.”
Later in your blog you say:
“But Mensch doesn’t give the full quote.”
Yet, above, in your very own fisk, you have given as “the actual full quote” precisely the same words that I cite as being the full quote.
So where are your retractions?
Lastly you basically completely ignore the majority of my blog which demonstrates, with evidence linked in the text, that Jeremy Corbyn knew in advance of the racism of Stephen Sizer, Paul Eisen, Dyab Abou Jahjah, and the CEC/La Rouche-ists.
You literally just don’t address it even though 3/4 of my blog is on that topic.
Any chance of going there?
econd part: your blog fisk having failed on ‘oil’ also fails on ‘full quote’, doesn’t it?
Nope. In the opening to your blog, you give a carefully edited version of the quote that backs up your headline claim that this is Corbyn making a comparison between the US and Isis. (Nowhere does Corbyn mention making a choice: you just made that part up.)
What Corbyn is actually talking about, as is clear in the full quote I give, is the best strategy for ensuring ISIS can’t access money or weapons. You’re not interested in that, because you don’t want to have to admit that Corbyn is discussing ways to strangle ISIS of oil money and weapons, so you avoid mentioning the oil money at all in your opener, and ignore most of what Corbyn’s saying – despite claiming at one point to give a “full quote”.
Lastly you basically completely ignore the majority of my blog which demonstrates, with evidence linked in the text, that Jeremy Corbyn knew in advance of the racism of Stephen Sizer, Paul Eisen, Dyab Abou Jahjah, and the CEC/La Rouche-ists
Part 2 deals with Paul Eisen, Deir Yassin, and Gilad Atzmon.
There’ll also be a Part 3…. and possibly a Part 4.
Even if we are only going to consider ‘part’ quotes.. the argument that Jeremy Corbyn platforms extremist views seems somewhat futile when retweeting hate speech or extremist views on Twitter?
Is attending events, meetings etc etc with those that hold extremist views platforming their views – if one has already stated that they oppose and reject those views?
That is really the debate here – with regards to Jeremy Corbyn ending up in the same place as these people. Therefore, what are Louise Mensch’s concerns with regards to this (if there is a genuine concern other than smearing) ?
Again, if it is platforming extremist views. Perhaps she should stop doing that on Twitter first?
Therefore, what are Louise Mensch’s concerns with regards to this (if there is a genuine concern other than smearing) ?
I think if Louise Mensch had sincere concerns about this, she wouldn’t have ignored Michael Meacher and Robert Oulds also giving CEC Australia interviews.
Quite. It’s all sounds super being against ‘hate speech/extremist views’ but rather interesting it doesn’t extend to others here with these hashtags on twitter and she has not made it clear WHY she is platforming these tweets? Louise – why are you platforming these tweets if you are still checking into the blog… ???
You make a strong and convincing case that Louise Mensch misrepresented what Corbyn said at the CEC event, and that taking the whole quote in context he does not posit this “choice” between IS and the US.
But I think that the question of what he was doing talking to CEC at all remains. You say “there is absolutely no reason why anyone in the UK should ever have heard of CEC Australia” and add that “had Corbyn, Meacher, or Oulds looked this microparty up in Wikipedia before they were interviewed” they’d have found some weird stuff. But if a political body you’d not heard of asked for an interview, wouldn’t you quickly google? The group’s own page displays LaRouche’s name prominently, and the Google results for the page says “Proponents of the LaRouche movement fighting for peace through economic development.” Surely most people involved in politics would at least have heard of LaRouche? The Wikipedia page, as you say, suggests that CEC might be fascist. (Here is the version they’d have seen when the invite was made: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Citizens_Electoral_Council&oldid=577012751 “The Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (CEC) is a minor nationalist political party in Australia affiliated with the international LaRouche Movement, led by American political activist and conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche. It reported having 549 members in 2007. They have been described as “far right”, “fascist” and “lunar right,” as well as “ideologues on the economic Left.””
You say “Since 1992, CEC Australia have been affiliated with the La Rouche movement, which is described in a Washington Monthly feature in 2007 as “a vast and bizarre vanity press.”” But it’s worth noting that before LaRouche took them over, as the Wikipedia article notes, they were a product of the Australian League of Rights, basically a more conventional fascist party.
So why would Corbyn associate himself with them? (And Meacher and Oulds too – but they’re not potential leaders of the opposition and therefore potential next prime ministers.)
You say: “I think Corbyn, Meacher, and Oulds all agreed to be interviewed because, well: a speaking engagement is a speaking engagement, especially one that can be completed on your lunch hour (you can hear Big Ben strike one during Corbyn’s interview).” So would Corbyn or Meacher agree to ANY speaking engagement? Would they accept a speaking engagement with the EDL, the BNP, the Ku Klux Klan or the Jewish Defence League? I am sure that they wouldn’t. And rightly, because socialists don’t give fascists any legitimation or association.
So, at the very least, agreeing to speak with CEC represents a total lack of due diligence from Corbyn and Meacher and their staff: poor judgement that we are right to draw critical attention to.
The only other possibility is that Corbyn and Meacher knew a bit about CEC but thought it was acceptable. That would be worrying. But it might not be totally out of the question. Meacher, along with Oulds, signed a petition circulated by the LaRouche movement associated with the conference they were beamed to http://newparadigm.schillerinstitute.com/media/the-u-s-and-europe-must-have-the-courage-to-reject-geopolitics-and-collaborate-with-the-brics/ which strongly advocates for Putin’s foreign policy goals in Eurasia.
Oulds’ Bruges Group of extreme right-wing eurosceptic Tories has long been associated with a pro-Putin geopolitcs, and it is disturbing to see the language used by the Bruges Group and the LaRouche movement echoed by lots of people on left, including lots of Corbyn’s close supporters. Paul Canning’s blogpost here http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/corbyn-and-ukraine-its-not-pretty.html (written some time before the Mail and Louise Mensch got hold of this story) discusses this in more detail and puts the LaRouche association in context. From a left-wing, anti-fascist perspective, this is very worrying, whether or not Mensch’s other allegations hold water.
I agree with you that CEC Australia is more than a bit dubious (meiosis) – even if they are quite literally a microparty lacking as much in strength as they are in merit.
Louise Mensch claims to know that Jeremy Corbyn organised the interview and granted them access.
I do wonder – though I don’t know – if what happened was that Gabrielle Peut showed up with her camera (and possibly someone to operate it) and got “surprise interviews” out of all three men, telling them no more than her name and the name of CEC Australia.
All three men used the opportunity to give a little lecture on an area of policy that clearly matters to them: it seems possible to me that they all just agreed out of good nature and the chance to spread their views a little, and genuinely didn’t know about the links to LaRouche.
I noticed that apart from these three British politicians, and the former MP from the Ukraine Parliament, there is no one else speaking at the conference who isn’t a member of CEC Australia or an affiliate.